Perth — China's offtake of thermal and coking coal exports from the Port Waratah coal terminals at Newcastle port in eastern Australia rose 35% on the month to 878,000 mt in August, from 650,000 mt in July, terminal operator Port Waratah Coal Services said in an operating report Tuesday.
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The offtake volume however, remained below the 1 million-mt mark for the third successive month, after peaking at 2.16 million mt in January.
High-ash thermal coal with a calorific value of 5,500 kcal/kg NAR is a favored product of Chinese coal buyers at Newcastle port, and its spot price has fallen to $42/mt FOB Newcastle this week compared with an average price of $46/mt in July, Platts data shows.
In the year-to-date period, China has taken 9.27 million mt of coal exports from the PWCS terminals, and nearly half its total of 17.94 million mt for the corresponding eight-month period in 2014, according to PWCS shipping data.
Japan was the destination for 4.49 million mt of coal shipped by the PWCS terminals last month, and down slightly on July's volume of 4.88 million mt, said the PWCS operating report.
In the first eight months of this year, Japan has lifted 34.86 million mt from the PWCS terminals at Newcastle port, and higher than its tonnage of 32.27 million mt for the same period in 2014.
Glencore, Rio Tinto, Centennial Coal and Peabody Energy are some of the coal shippers that utilize the PWCS terminals.
SOUTH KOREA OVERTAKES CHINA
South Korean buyers booked 1.58 million mt of PWCS coal shipments in August, up from 1.46 million mt in July, and bringing its year-to-date total to 11.73 million mt, compared with 10.74 million mt for the first eight months of 2014, said the PWCS shipping data.
Taiwan was a customer for 1.63 million mt of Newcastle coal exports shipped through the PWCS terminals in August, its highest monthly volume since 1.66 million mt in April 2011.
For the year to date, Taiwan has claimed 8.8 million mt of coal exports from the PWCS terminals, while for the January-August 2014 period the shipment volume for Taiwan was only 6.96 million mt.
Power utility companies in Taiwan and South Korea have been prolific buyers of Australian thermal coal this year through regular purchase tenders, and have taken advantage of lower prices and the withdrawal of Chinese buyers from the Newcastle market.
India took 148,000 mt of coal exports from the PWCS terminals in August after taking none in July. Over January-August, exports from the PWCS terminals to India were just 550,000 mt, said the operating report.
India took 958,000 mt of coal from the PWCS terminals at Newcastle port in 2014, and most of it was in the last quarter of the year, according to PWCS data.
According to the PWCS operating report, thermal coal comprised 88%, or 8.86 million mt, of August's throughput for the company's two export terminals, and 12% or 1.2 million mt was metallurgical coal.